‘Controlled burn’ activity in Napanee to address forest debris, dead Ash trees

Photo by Marko Horvat.

The Town of Greater Napanee is advising citizens of a “controlled burn” taking place on Circuit Rider Drive over the coming days – for as long as a week, according to communications from the Town.

On Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024, the Town issued a notice on social media and the Greater Napanee website, stating that the controlled burn would take place “for the next five to seven days.”

“Smoke will be visible in this area until the controlled burn is completed,” the notice stated, with no other details shared.

The Town had previously announced on the evening of Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2024, that another controlled burn was taking place at Riverside Cemetery. There, “cemetery staff” were conducting the controlled burn beginning at approximately 4 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024, according to a notice posted to the Town’s Facebook page.

While the Town issued these notices to assure residents that smoke in the areas of the controlled burns was no cause for alarm, a number of residents questioned why the fires were taking place and what was being burned. Kingstonist reached out to the Town of Greater Napanee for further details.

According to Kylie Huffman, Community Engagement and Communications Clerk for the Town, the controlled burn at Riverside Cemetery was “conducted to burn… ash trees and wind damaged tree limbs that have been cleaned up.”

Huffman was referring to ash trees that had previously been cut down due to the emerald ash borer invasion, which began in the early 1990s, according to the federal Department of Natural Resources, but became critical in the early 2000s and continues to plague communities across the country. Readers may recall that, in September 2023, Napanee Town Council heard an in-depth presentation from Jeff Chestnut, a property management professional who flagged the problems due to the effects of the invasion locally to Council, Town staff, and residents. Chestnut specifically spoke of “10 to 12 trees along the south side of the Napanee River” in Springside Park during that presentation.

With regard to the five-to-seven-day controlled burn on Circuit Rider Drive, Huffman said that is “being completed to clear forest material.”

“Any black or dark brown smoke is from green tree limbs and tops that are in the pre-heating stage. This is why when material is added to the burn pile, you can see a larger volume of this colour smoke until the fire consumes those materials,” Huffman told Kingstonist.

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